University of Massachusetts Amherst
Special Collections and University Archives
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Granite Cutters International Association of America

Granite Cutters' International Association of America Records, 1877-1978
27 boxes (19.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 004

Organized in Rockland, Maine in March 1877 as the Granite Cutters’ National Union, the association later adopted its present name in 1905. The trade union clearly had a strong sense of their identity and purpose claiming for itself “the jurisdiction over cutting, carving, dressing, sawing, and setting all granite and hard stone on which granite cutters tools are used,” and further claiming that “no other other trade, craft or calling has any right or jurisdiction over” the these activities.

Records include National Union Committee minutebooks from 1886-1954, monthly circulars, membership registers, and 100 years of the union’s official publication, the Granite Cutters’ Journal.

Background on Granite Cutters

The Granite Cutters International Association of America, formerly named Granite Cutter’s National Union, was a safe haven for workers who wanted support for the jobs they did. On January 2, 1877, the concept of an organization which provided support for the hundreds of working men began to form and on March 3, 1877, the Rockland Maine Branch was established. This would be the first of many branches across the United States that would eventually form. The main task of the Association was to discuss working conditions and pay as well as elect officers to represent the branch. For those who were injured, donations were collected from other members so that the man, who couldn’t provide for himself or his family, could still survive.

In order to become a member, there was a .71 cent charge, but this fee covered the cost of supplies for the branch, furnishings for the offices and the cost of printing publications. Once a member of the Association, men were encouraged to voice their opinions or concerns themselves rather than having a representative voice it for them, and each branch President encouraged a familial communication between the members so that no one felt persecuted for raising issues that were important to an individual.

Before the Granite Cutters International Association of America was established, the granite workers worked 10-12 hour days depending on the season. The very small amounts of money that they did make went to food and boarding houses where the men stayed. This meant that there was very little money left over to save or send home to their families. The Association was able to negotiate an 8 hour work day, 6 days a week with a half work day on Sundays. The minimum wage was increased from $2.50 in the 1890s to $8.00 in the 1920s. In the 1940s the work week decreased to 5 days a week at $9.00 minimum pay. Besides an increase in pay, the Association was able to introduce safety and ventilation procedures when pneumatic tools and machines were invented to protect workers from the dust, which was a health hazard.

While the introduction of machinery allowed for work production to increase, it also resulted in a sharp decline in employment. In the 1920s there were roughly 10,000 members and by 1973 there were only 3,033 members.

Contents of Collection

Through the years, the Granite Cutters International Association of America kept meticulous minutes of meetings as well as publishing a monthly journal. Minute books record events that took place within the union from 1886-1954; entries include but are not limited to votes, appeals, decrees and loans. Their publication, called “The Granite Cutter’s Journal”, was a monthly newsletter sent out to members across the country. A typical issue included: legislative news, employment opportunities for stone cutters, branch correspondence, death notices of members and their relatives, member lists, unpaid loans, and national union information. Finally, membership books (1906-1918) maintained a register of all members of the Association and the identification number associated with each man.

dingbat for decoration

Inventory of Collection
Minutes: National Union Committee minutebook 1886-1889 Box 1
Minutes: National Union Committee minutebook 1892-1896 Box 1
Minutes: National Union Committee minutebook 1896-1904 Box 2 OS
Minutes: National Union Committee minutebook 1905-1908 Box 3
Minutes: National Union Committee minutebook 1908-1913 Box 3
Minutes: National Union Committee minutebook 1921-1941 Box 4
Minutes: National Union Committee minutebook 1941-1954 Box 4
Publications: monthly circulars 1886, 1892-1913 Box 5
Publications: monthly circulars 1914-1931 Box 6
Publications: monthly circulars 1931-1949 Box 7
Publications: monthly circulars 1949-1973 Box 8
Publications: Granite Cutters Journal 1877-1883 Box 9 OS
Publications: Granite Cutters Journal 1884-1890 Box 10 OS
Publications: Granite Cutters Journal 1891-1895 Box 11 OS
Publications: Granite Cutters Journal 1896-1900 Box 12 OS
Publications: Granite Cutters Journal 1901-1905 Box 13 OS
Publications: Granite Cutters Journal 1906-1909 Box 14 OS
Publications: Granite Cutters Journal 1910-1913 Box 15
Publications: Granite Cutters Journal 1914-1917 Box 16
Publications: Granite Cutters Journal 1918-1922 Box 17
Publications: Granite Cutters Journal 1922-1925 Box 18
Publications: Granite Cutters Journal 1925-1929 Box 19
Publications: Granite Cutters Journal 1929-1931 Box 20
Publications: Granite Cutters Journal 1931-1939 Box 21
Publications: Granite Cutters Journal 1940-1949 Box 22
Publications: Granite Cutters Journal 1949-1955 Box 23
Publications: Granite Cutters Journal 1955-1961 Box 24
Publications: Granite Cutters Journal 1961-1967 Box 25
Publications: Granite Cutters Journal 1967-1978 Box 26
Account book 1932-1965 Box 27
Register of membership 1906-1911 Box OS
Register of membership 1912-1918 Box OS
dingbat for decoration

Acquired in 1984 from Rita MacDonald, Secretary to the President; Tile, Marble, Terrazzo, Finishers, Shopworkers, and Granite Cutters International Union, AFL-CIO.

Processing Information

Processed by Chelsey Talbot, September 2013.

Copyright and Use (More informationConnect to publication information)

Cite as: Granite Cutters’ International Association of America Records (MS 4). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

  • Labor unions--New England
  • Stone-cutters--Labor unions
  • Granite Cutters' International Association of America
Types of material
  • Minute books

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